Learn how to make an Oil-free Romesco Sauce with roasted almonds, pine nuts, bell peppers and red wine vinegar. This sauce is so creamy, rich in flavor and absolutely delicious!
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WHAT IS ROMESCO SAUCE?
If you’ve never had romesco sauce, you are missing out. It is a classic Spanish sauce that originated in Spain. Classically, it is served alongside fish, but can be used any way you like. Eating it with a spoon is perfectly acceptable in my house. The base of the sauce is pureed almonds and bell peppers with some flavor enhancers. So, if you love almonds and you love bell peppers, this is your new best friend. I love recipes that utilize a strong amount of bell peppers, like in this Vegan Hungarian Goulash and this Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
CHUNKY OR SMOOTH?
That is the question, do you like your romesco sauce chunky or super smooth? If you are a fan of romesco sauce, then you know it definitely varies per version and personal taste. My version is right down the middle. It is not as runny as a sauce, like a vegan alfredo for example, but it’s not a paste either. It is totally smooth, texture-wise, but due to the almonds, it is thicker and looks more textured, although there are no bits of almonds remaining.
HOW TO MAKE ROMESCO SAUCE OIL-FREE
Nearly every romesco sauce recipe calls for oil, usually olive oil. Since I don’t use oil, how did I make this just as buttery without any oil? Pine nuts! I mean, yes, the almonds lend to mega flavor and creaminess, but the touch of pine nuts really drives home that creamy taste and texture. Pine nuts are also the secret to this vegan Caesar salad dressing.
For this oil-free romesco sauce, you will need just 7 ingredients (+salt/water):
- raw almonds
- pine nuts
- 2 large red bell peppers
- tomato sauce
- garlic cloves
- red wine vinegar
- smoked paprika
First, you will roast those bell peppers until they become charred and juicy. This adds so much flavor. (full recipe details below)
Next, you will need to roast the almonds. Many recipes do not do this, but I find the flavor is lacking and using roasted almonds really enriches the creaminess and depth of flavor. Not to mention, they blend so much easier roasted. Bake them at 300°F for 15 minutes.
Add the roasted bell peppers, almonds, pine nuts, tomato sauce, garlic, red wine vinegar, smoked paprika and salt to a food processor. Process for several minutes until completely smooth or desired texture is reached. I like mine smooth with no bits of nuts remaining.
WHAT CAN I PUT ROMESCO SAUCE ON?
- Use as a pizza sauce for a twist on pizza! I’m all about new sauces on pizza, like this Vegan Garlic Alfredo Pizza.
- As a spread on a sandwich or burger. Mayo, step aside. This oil-free romesco will liven up any sandwich!
- Dolloped over tacos, because it has that wonderful Spanish smoky taste, it will be delicious on tacos.
- Served alongside potato wedges or fries, which is my favorite way.
- Delicious served with roasted veggies. Um, yes, please.
- Over a baked potato.
- And, of course, over pasta. Is there any sauce that doesn’t taste good on pasta?
I hope you love this oil-free romesco sauce, please make it and come back and rate it! Share your pics with me on Facebook or Instagram and use my tag #thevegan8!
Other Oil-free Vegan Sauce Recipes to try:
- Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde
- Easy Homemade Salsa
- Pimento Cream Sauce
- Red Pepper Curry Sauce
- Chickpea Tomato Ragu Sauce
- Best Vegan Garlic Alfredo Sauce
- Easy Homemade Pizza Sauce
- Easy Vegan Mexican Cheese Sauce
Oil-free Romesco Sauce
- 2 large bell peppers, sliced into strips (330g)
- 3/4 cup (114g) raw whole almonds
- 1 1/4 cups (300g) tomato sauce/puree (I literally just blended up diced tomatoes from a box into a liquid sauce and then measured. This way I could avoid the added salt.)
- 1 tablespoon (15g) red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (keep in mind raw garlic is very powerful, so start out with 2 medium-large cloves (8g) and add more if desired)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- optional-pinch cayenne peper
- I use this scale.
- I used no salt tomatoes and the 1/2 teaspoon salt was perfect for me. If your tomato sauce is salted, you may need adjustment.
Preheat the oven to 450°F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Place the almonds spread out on one pan and the sliced bell peppers on the other.
Add ONLY the pan of bell peppers to the oven first and roast for 15-20 minutes until they are starting to look charred on the tips and edges. Remove from the oven.
Turn off the oven to cool a bit before turning it back on to 300°F and add the pan of almonds. You do this because if you add the almonds while the oven is still so hot, they will burn. Bake for 15 minutes until smelling fragrant, be careful not to burn.
Add the bell peppers, roasted almonds, tomato sauce, red wine vinegar, pine nuts, water, garlic, smoked paprika, salt and cayenne (if using) to a food processor. Blend for a minute, scrape down the sides well and process again for 3-5 minutes. Be patient with this so it can reach the smooth texture you see in the photo. I liked mine completely smooth, but thick, and no bits of nuts remaining.
If you prefer more texture, process less. If you want it runnier, or milder in flavor, add a touch more water, adjusting the flavor if needed. Just know that classic romesco sauce is supposed to be on the thicker side, so it can be almost like a topping or dip, not meant to be a runny sauce.
After it has reached the desired consistency, taste and add more salt or vinegar if desired. I found it to be perfect and 1/2 teaspoon salt was just right. Serve over pasta, as a dipping sauce for fries or potato wedges, top over a baked potato, tacos, alongside veggies or whatever you like. My favorite is with potato wedges!